The Gaze LGBT Film Festival which took place over the weekend, presented its inaugural Vanguard Award to Mary McAleese, the much loved former President of Ireland for her “outspoken commitment” to the LGBT+ community.
Created to honour a person, organisation or ally who has helped the community through arts or humanitarian effort, the Vanguard Award was presented by Sarah Williams, Chairperson of Gaze, who said: “Dr. McAleese’s unwavering support for the advancement of the LGBT+ community has been widely acknowledged and praised, and we felt very strongly that we wanted to present her with this award this evening to mark her achievements.” Williams continued: “It is very much presented on behalf of the entire LGBT+ community to thank her for her outspoken commitment to all of us. We thank her most sincerely for her continuing efforts as a strong ally.”
GCN was there to capture the moment when Dr McAleese was presented with the award by filmmaker John Butler, director of Handsome Devil.
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Speaking to reporters at the ceremony, Dr McAleese addressed to upcoming Papal visit and how Pope Francis had recently changed the church’s position on capital punishment, wherein it was stated “The death penalty is inadmissable because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity on the person”.
Dr McAleese said that as the church’s view had changed in that regard, she hoped their beliefs on LGBT+ people would follow suit – “So I’m hoping that having done that this week that maybe next week or in weeks to come that he will challenge other doctrines that really in the light of science and in the light of a gospel of love has to be changed. The church has to take responsibility for the damage inflicted on generations of men, women and children by the evil teaching that it promotes around homosexuality.”
Mary McAleese also spoke about Pope Francis himself, saying “I had faith in this pope. But it would be wrong to say anything other than I am disappointed”. This was due to his failure to respond to a letter she had sent regarding her exclusion from a Vatican conference. “Just over six months later I have received neither acknowledgement nor a considered reply. I think that’s regrettable. I also think it’s bad manners”.
She also placed blame on Cardinal Kevin Farrell on her exclusion saying it was “a deliberate personal insult to me. It was designed to send a message to me and I got the message loud and clear”.
The former President’s son, Justin McAleese was in attendance at the event. Himself a gay man, he recently objected to religious arguments about gay marriage in Northern Ireland, saying “Faith has no place in secular, registry office marriage.”
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